Under Pressure From Privacy Advocates, San Diego Mayor Shuts Down Streetlight Cameras

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer this week ordered cameras attached to some of the city’s streetlights to be shut off until the City Council approves an ordinance regulating their use by law enforcement.

The move, which he announced via Twitter on Thursday, came after more than a year of pressure from privacy advocates to implement stronger oversight of the cameras. The city signed a deal to acquire the so-called “smart streetlights” in 2016, originally intending to use them to save energy, monitor traffic patterns and improve transportation planning.

But the cameras were never able to produce valuable data for those purposes. In August 2018, the San Diego Police Department began accessing footage from the cameras and using it in criminal investigations. SDPD crafted its own policy on when detectives could use the footage roughly six months later.